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Wine Tips & Etiquette

 

Welcome to Pro Wine Guide!

Take a tip from a pro: “Location, Location, Location” is the secret to finding the best bottle of wine for your budget. Throughout my 30+ years in the wine distribution industry, I have found labels that tie wines as closely as possible to their grape source to be the best indicator of quality vs. price. This closely parallels the concepts of farm-to-table sourcing of foods as a measure of quality. Working within your budget, check off at least 2 of these 3 items from the bottle label:
1) Region/Appellation (Ex: Napa Valley AVA, Sonoma County AVA, Bordeaux or Rhone Valley),
2) Sub-appellation (Ex: Rutherford, Alexander Valley, Haut-Medoc or Chateauneuf-du-Pape),
3) Estate or Chateau bottled and/or named vineyard.
You will often see unfamiliar wineries on wine lists. Fear not! These small production boutique wineries represent some of the best examples of their varietals. Having tasted wine from countries, regions, appellations, sub-appellations, estates and vineyards across the globe, I follow these very same guidelines myself when selecting a bottle.
And while you’re searching for that Goldilocks bottle to match your entree selection, think about beginning your dining event with a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. Bubbles pair with everything!
I believe all the best bottles of wine reflect a taste of time, place and passion. Welcome to this timeless journey!
~ Dale Blankenship
Founder, ProWineGuide.com and Umami.Life

Restaurant Wine Rituals

The ritual of tasting wine from a bottle that you’ve ordered in a restaurant can be intimidating, so here’s a quick guide. Not just for show, it also helps you determine if a bottle is acceptable or tainted. Wines with traditional cork closures may occasionally exhibit the chemical compound TCA. These days, cork-tainted wines account for 4% or less of the wines to hit the market. A winemaker may opt to use a Stelvin closure (screw cap) instead of cork. The type of closure does not reflect upon the quality of the wine, only the preference of the winemaker.

Step by step, here’s the cheat sheet on the ritual:


1. Presentation of the Bottle

The wine specialist or server presents the bottle for inspection to the person who ordered the wine. Read over the label to ensure that it’s the wine you ordered. Feel free to touch the bottle to determine whether its’ temperature seems to be correct. Whites should be chilled, but not icy cold. Reds should have a slight coolness to them. If you’re satisfied with the bottle, nod your approval to the server.


2. Removal and Inspection of the Cork

The server removes the cork and places it in front of you. Inspect the cork and sniff it to make sure it’s in good condition. In rare instances, a wine may be so tainted the the cork itself will have an unpleasant odor. Even less often, the cork might be wet and shriveled or dry and crumbly. A cork that’s less than perfect suggests that air has infiltrated the wine and spoiled it. Don’t be too quick to reject a bottle if the cork raises your suspicions. Wait to smell or taste the wine itself. Corked wines can range from muted aromas/fruit to full-on wet, moldy cardboard aromas and zero fruit. TCA is an equal opportunity spoiler impacting wine in every price range. In other cases, the wine may need time to open up. If the bottle has a Stelvin closure, this step will be skipped.


3. Pour, Swirl, Sniff and Sip

The server pours a small amount of wine into your glass and waits. You swirl the wine in the glass, take a sniff, a little sip and then indicate whether you find the wine acceptable. If the wine is fine, you can nod your approval or say, “It’s fine.” If something is wrong with the wine, now is the time to return it. If you decide that the bottle is unacceptable, describe to the server what you find wrong with the wine. If the wine specialist or server agrees that it’s a bad bottle, he may bring you another bottle of the same, or he may ask if you would like to select another wine. Either way, the ritual repeats itself.


4. Serving the Table

If you accept the wine, the server pours the wine into your guests’ glasses and ends with yours.
Cheers!


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  • Just A Glass, Please

    La Marca Prosecco

    Italy, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate, golden straw color and lively effervescence. Aromas of fresh citrus, honey and white flowers. The palate is fresh and clean, with flavors of ripe lemon, green apple and grapefruit framed by mineral undertones.

    $9

    Glass

    Anna de Codorniu Rosé Cava

    Spain, DO Cava Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate cherry color with strawberry tones. Fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of red fruit, strawberries, cherries and woodland fruits with hints of green apple. On the palate it is elegant and light. Well balanced between acidity and sweetness with a refreshing finish.

    $9

    Glass

    L’Etre Magique Crémant de Bourgogne

    France, Burgundy Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Balancing act of zesty elegance — clean, crisp with a subtle creaminess and lingering finish. On the nose, aromas of white nectarine, toasted almonds and a sense of minerality. The mousse is persistent and elegant. White stone fruit and a touch of citrus can be noted.

    $11

    Glass

    Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut (187ml)

    France, Champagne, Epernay Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Distinguished by its’ bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity. An elegant color of golden straw yellow with green highlights.

    $18

    Glass

    Terrazas Alto Chardonnay

    Argentina Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Fresh and fruity character of white peach, pear and pineapple with citrus hints. Aromas of white roses and brioche with subtle notes of hazelnut and vanilla. Perfect balance between velvety texture and high acidity.

    $9

    Glass

    Sea Sun Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    The best characteristics of Chardonnay with fruit flavors, oak and acidity in harmony and balance.

    $10

    Glass

    Willamette Valley Vyds Riesling

    OR, Willamette Valley Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    This semi-sweet wine opens with luscious aromatics of citrus, stonefruit and honeysuckle. The mouthfeel is juicy with bright acidity that activates the palate and displays flavors of peach, tangerine, pear and nectar. The finish is wonderfully persistent with a balance of sweetness and refreshing crispness.

    $11

    Glass

    Oyster Bay Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, Marlborough, Oyster Bay Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Delicate herb and cherry aromas pick up vanilla shadings on the palate, then finish with a silky texture and a hint of tomato leaf.

    $10

    Glass

    Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot, Alexander Valley

    CA, Sonoma Co., Alexander Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Style emphasis on harvesting at full physiological ripeness and flavor, but not so late as to gain excessive alcohol. Intense plum and blackberry aromas with juicy red and black fruit flavors. Full-bodied and dense, the palate is lush and finishes with velvety tannins and spice.

    $12

    Glass

    Bodegas Beronia Tempranillo Crianza

    Spain, Rioja DOC Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Fresh, herbaceous aromas of thyme and rosemary mingle with fruity berry notes then becoming complex developing aromas of orange and cinnamon. Equally complex on the palate with sweet flavors of vanilla and milk chocolate from the American oak. Pleasant, full-bodied with a very long finish.

    $12

    Glass

    Conundrum Red Blend

    California Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of dark German chocolate, rich berries and fresh lavender. Entry on the palate is round and broad with lush flavors of candied cherries and chocolate. Fine tannins create silky smoothness with hints of cocoa on the finish.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    Terrazas de los Andes RSVA Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Wines are fruity and aromatic, revealing a floral and red fruit profile of violet, raspberry and cherry, with marked aromas of toasted coffee and chocolate.

    View Video

    $11

    Glass

    Josh Cellars Legacy Red Blend

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromatic blue fruits and brown spices delight the nose, most notably the fresh plum and blackberry fruit. The wine is dense and juicy, with baked plums and dark cherries, layered with roasted almonds and hazelnuts, finishing long with fine, soft tannins.

    View Video

    $10

    Glass

    Austerity Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Paso Robles Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    This robust wine features ripe cherry aromas followed by licorice and sweet oak. The layered palate features bright red fruits with a bold framework of structured tannins. The depth of flavor is underscored by a long finish.

    $11

    Glass

  • Sparkling & Champagne

    La Marca Prosecco

    Italy, Prosecco DOC Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate, golden straw color and lively effervescence. Aromas of fresh citrus, honey and white flowers. The palate is fresh and clean, with flavors of ripe lemon, green apple and grapefruit framed by mineral undertones.

    $9

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Anna de Codorniu Rosé Cava

    Spain, DO Cava Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Delicate cherry color with strawberry tones. Fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of red fruit, strawberries, cherries and woodland fruits with hints of green apple. On the palate it is elegant and light. Well balanced between acidity and sweetness with a refreshing finish.

    $9

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut (187ml)

    France, Champagne, Epernay Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Distinguished by its’ bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity. An elegant color of golden straw yellow with green highlights.

    $18

    Glass

    $18

    Bottle

    L’Etre Magique Crémant de Bourgogne

    France, Burgundy Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Balancing act of zesty elegance — clean, crisp with a subtle creaminess and lingering finish. On the nose, aromas of white nectarine, toasted almonds and a sense of minerality. The mousse is persistent and elegant. White stone fruit and a touch of citrus can be noted.

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

    Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut

    France, Champagne Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Distinguished by its’ bright fruitiness, seductive palate and elegant maturity. An elegant color of golden straw yellow with green highlights.

    $19

    Glass

    $70

    Bottle

    Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut NV

    France, Champagne Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Golden yellow appearance with tiny bubbles. Tightly knit with robust acidity and a streak of minerality, this offers subtle notes of white peach, plum and pear with hints of vanilla. The finish evokes a note of toasty brioche.

    $110

    Bottle

    Krug Grande Cuvée Brut Champagne (375ml)

    France, Champagne Sparkling & Champagne / NV

    Hints of apples still on the tree, flowers in bloom, ripe and dried fruit, almonds, marzipan, gingerbread, sweet spices and even brioche and honey. Exceptional freshness in the mouth, with rich and tangy citrus flavors enhanced by the subtlety of its fine and elegant bubbles.

    $115

    Bottle

  • Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé

    Minuty M Rosé

    France, Côtes de Provence AOP Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Light and bright robe of color. Very intense on the nose with aromas of orange peels and red currant. Smooth on the palate with a nice fresh acidity. Blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah.

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

    Elana Walch Pinot Grigio

    Italy, Alto Adige DOC Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Captivates with light straw yellow and fruity notes of ripe pears, white pepper and a bit of sage in the nose. Mineral-salty richness and a prolonged are distinctive on the palate.

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

    Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

    New Zealand, Marlborough Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    Fresh and vibrant on the nose with aromatics of bright citrus, kaffir lime, orchard blossoms and passion fruit. The palate is concentrated and mouthwatering with juicy stone fruit and subtle tropical characters underpinned by a fine minerality and meyer lemon acidity.

    $65

    Bottle

    Charles Krug St. Helena Sauvignon Blanc

    CA, Napa Valley, St. Helena Est. Vyds Crisp, Light-Bodied White & Rosé / Vintage

    This light to medium-bodied wine displays vibrant, finely balanced acidity with notes of lime and grapefruit on the nose and flavors of citrus and passionfruit on the palate.

    View Video

    $10

    Glass

    $37

    Bottle

  • Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White

    Terrazas Alto Chardonnay

    Argentina Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Fresh and fruity character of white peach, pear and pineapple with citrus hints. Aromas of white roses and brioche with subtle notes of hazelnut and vanilla. Perfect balance between velvety texture and high acidity.

    $9

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Sea Sun Chardonnay

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    The best characteristics of Chardonnay with fruit flavors, oak and acidity in harmony and balance.

    $10

    Glass

    $37

    Bottle

    Orin Swift Mannequin

    California Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    White wine blend with aromatics of honeydew, honeysuckle and ripe peach complemented by a hint of jasmine, pineapple and cream. Full-bodied weight and viscosity, the palate brims with ripe stone fruit, wet stone and a touch of sweet Meyer lemon. Pointed, textured finish closes with nice minerality.

    $55

    Bottle

    Jordan Chardonnay

    CA, Sonoma, Russian River Valley Rich, Medium to Full-Bodied White / Vintage

    Night-harvested grapes, French oak aging and old-world winemaking techniques create a balanced white wine defined by purity of stone fruit flavors, vibrant acidity and a succulent finish. Elegance, minerality and lush, lingering finish.

    View Video

    $67

    Bottle

  • Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet

    Villa Pozzi Moscato

    Italy, Sicily IGT Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    Aromas of fresh figs, apricot and orange blossoms. This crisp and refreshing wine is slightly effervescent with a gentle sweetness that invites another glass.

    $9

    Glass

    $33

    Bottle

    Willamette Valley Vyds Riesling

    OR, Willamette Valley Aromatic, Semi-Sweet & Sweet / Vintage

    This semi-sweet wine opens with luscious aromatics of citrus, stonefruit and honeysuckle. The mouthfeel is juicy with bright acidity that activates the palate and displays flavors of peach, tangerine, pear and nectar. The finish is wonderfully persistent with a balance of sweetness and refreshing crispness.

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

  • Fruity, Light-Bodied Red

    Oyster Bay Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, Marlborough, Oyster Bay Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Delicate herb and cherry aromas pick up vanilla shadings on the palate, then finish with a silky texture and a hint of tomato leaf.

    $10

    Glass

    $37

    Bottle

    Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir

    CA, Monterey Co., Santa Lucia Highlands, Las Alturas Vyds Fruity, Light-Bodied Red / Vintage

    A masculine style Pinot Noir, with complexity of dark berry fruits unfold on the palate; blackberries and bing cherries along with dark chocolate flavors. Vanilla and cedar oak undertones on the mid-palate further enhance the wine.

    View Video

    $70

    Bottle

  • Supple, Medium-Bodied Red

    Bodegas Beronia Tempranillo Crianza

    Spain, Rioja DOC Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Fresh, herbaceous aromas of thyme and rosemary mingle with fruity berry notes then becoming complex developing aromas of orange and cinnamon. Equally complex on the palate with sweet flavors of vanilla and milk chocolate from the American oak. Pleasant, full-bodied with a very long finish.

    $12

    Glass

    $45

    Bottle

    Conundrum Red Blend

    California Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of dark German chocolate, rich berries and fresh lavender. Entry on the palate is round and broad with lush flavors of candied cherries and chocolate. Fine tannins create silky smoothness with hints of cocoa on the finish.

    View Video

    $12

    Glass

    $45

    Bottle

    Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot, Alexander Valley

    CA, Sonoma Co., Alexander Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Style emphasis on harvesting at full physiological ripeness and flavor, but not so late as to gain excessive alcohol. Intense plum and blackberry aromas with juicy red and black fruit flavors. Full-bodied and dense, the palate is lush and finishes with velvety tannins and spice.

    $12

    Glass

    $45

    Bottle

    Stags’ Leap Winery Petite Sirah

    CA, Napa Valley Supple, Medium-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Generous black plum and black cherry flavors are prominent on the palate, yet backed up with delicate cinnamon, clove and cedar spice notes from the oak ageing. The freshness and vibrancy makes it very inviting with restrained tannins and a generous lengthy finish.

    View Video

    $75

    Bottle

  • Bold, Full-Bodied Red

    Terrazas de los Andes RSVA Malbec

    Argentina, Mendoza Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Wines are fruity and aromatic, revealing a floral and red fruit profile of violet, raspberry and cherry, with marked aromas of toasted coffee and chocolate.

    View Video

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

    Josh Cellars Legacy Red Blend

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromatic blue fruits and brown spices delight the nose, most notably the fresh plum and blackberry fruit. The wine is dense and juicy, with baked plums and dark cherries, layered with roasted almonds and hazelnuts, finishing long with fine, soft tannins.

    View Video

    $10

    Glass

    $37

    Bottle

    Austerity Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Paso Robles Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    This robust wine features ripe cherry aromas followed by licorice and sweet oak. The layered palate features bright red fruits with a bold framework of structured tannins. The depth of flavor is underscored by a long finish.

    $11

    Glass

    $41

    Bottle

    Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Paso Robles Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Deep ruby in color, intense fragrances of black currants, ripe cherries and blackberries with subtle notes of violets, mocha and dried spices. Big and powerful with velvety tannins and juicy dark berry flavors, while nuances of cedar, clove and vanilla bean round out the long finish.

    $60

    Bottle

    Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Sonoma, Alexander Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    The wine is full-bodied with aromas of black currant, orange zest and raspberry. The taste is rich and gives way to a mid-palate with breadth and depth, supported with acidity and dusty tannins.

    View Video

    $105

    Bottle

    Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

    CA, Napa Valley Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    This wine is abundant in textural tannins, yet soft as velvet. A wide array of aromas and flavors including cocoa, cassis and vanilla.

    View Video

    $130

    Bottle

    Orin Swift 8 Years in the Desert

    California Bold, Full-Bodied Red / Vintage

    Aromas of briar fruit, ripe blackberry and dark plum. Big mid-palate with complex flavors of ripe brambly fruit, a touch of earth and notes of espresso bean. Massive through to the finish with soft drying tannins. Blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah.

    $75

    Bottle

  • Light Appetizers

  • Cheese/Eggs

  • Soup/Rich Appetizers

  • Cured Meat

  • Spicy Latin/Southwest

  • White Meat

  • Red Meat

  • Wild Game

  • Sweets